The Digital Economy Act 2017

The Digital Economy Act 2017 received the Royal Assent on 27 April 2017 during the 'wash up' before the General Election on 8 June 2017. As the Digital Economy Bill 2016-17 (DEB) in March and early April 2017 I posted some thoughts I had had regarding some of its content.

In March 2016 I wrote this article on my LinkedIn page: 'Age Verification and the Digital Economy Bill' which looked as how the provisions of the DEB are going to protect children and vulnerable people from seeing inappropriate content on television and the internet. I followed this up a few days later with a response to some questions I had received under the heading Jihadi pollution. Then in mid-April 2017 I posted a page setting out my thoughts on 'Prohibited material'. The publication of the Conservative Manifesto 2017 indicates how this matters are going to be addressed in the next Parliament. I would, in particular, draw your attention to the paragraphs on page 72 headed 'Children and Young People's Health' in the section headed "Children and Families. Also the section on page 55 under "Integrating divided communities + defeating extremism" which suggests a sensible use of what was Clause 91 of the DEB (which finally became section 104 of the Digital Economy Act 2017), the filtering provisions, by Ofcom in the form of light touch regulation. More recently this topic is further addressed in the video evidence submission to the DCMS on my SafeCast site.

My thoughts on 'Prohibited material' had an interesting outcome. The article explored what should constitute video material which should always be banned from viewing on television and the internet. It ran into a problem with YouTube and FOX. In my article, I considered whether accidental deaths and serious injury should be shown or whether respect for the dead and the traumatic effect of such materials should give rise to a presumption that they are not permitted. To illustrate this point I cited the British 1965 U-rated movie - "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" - which, in its opening sequence shows what to the casual observer might be thought to be something that is making fun of the death of brave aviators. I explain that this is not actually the case and walked the reader through what is actually shown. To illustrate this I tried to put up a five-minute clip from the title sequence to the movie at a YouTube hotlink in the article. This was instantly identified by YouTube as being a potential copyright infringement and blocked. So I filed an appeal with YouTube against this blocking saying that this blocking is incorrect and that I am entitled to illustrate a legal argument by reference to a video copy of a substantial part of the title sequence. Open, fair debate on important legal issues is clearly 'fair use' within the meaning of the law and must be allowed.

I am pleased to report that FOX agreed with this claim and the opening sequence of "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" can now been viewed by readers of my article on 'Prohibited material'